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Hedgerows and hedgerow networks in landscape ecology

Environmental Management volume 8, pages495–510 (1984)


Hedgerows originated and coexist with agriculture. Their internal structure and species diversity vary widely with origin (planted, spontaneous, or remnant), farming practices in adjacent fields, and the refined art of hedgerow management. Most hedgerow species are forest-edge species, and apparently none is limited to hedgerows. Wide hedgerows composed of trees and shrubs appear to function as corridors for movement of many plants and animals across a landscape. The reduction of crop loss, by dampening pest population fluctuations with hedgerow predators, remains a hypothesis for study. Field microclimate downwind of a hedgerow is modified about 16 times the hedgerow height (h) for evaporation, and approximately 28 h for wind speed. A turbulent wind pattern with harsher microclimate is present at 6–8 h if a second hedgerow is nearby downwind. Zones of higher crop productivity at 3- to 6-h downwind, and 2- to 6-h upwind of a second hedgerow may be expected. Overall, we expect little short-term difference in farm-field production with or without hedgerows. Evidence suggests that hedgerow networks, and especially their mesh size (of fields), exert a major control on many major landscape fluxes. Such fluxes include animal populations, wind speed, evapotranspiration and soil desiccation, soil erosion and nutrient runoff, species movement along network lines, and movement of field species across the network. In a relatively short period, the hedgerow ecosystem, with no unique species, has attained a metastable equilibrium, which is regulated by enormous human inputs. More than 20 economic roles of hedgerows are pinpointed. The roles, providing resources and protection of resources, are poorly known quantitatively. We conclude that hedgerows perform diverse functions for society and the farmer that are both economically and ecologically significant.

Author(s): Richard T. T. Forman & Jacques Baudry

Journal: Environmental Management volume 8, pages495–510 (1984)

Year: 1984


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